Earlier this week, a dozen French citizens were murdered for the crime of hurting people's feelings. We can dress it up as nicely as you'd like, complicate it beyond recognition, claim all sorts of justification based on religious or cultural grounds - but it doesn't change that simple fact. Charlie Hebdo mocked and criticized any number of groups that fumed and complained but drawing "offensive" cartoons of Islam's prophet Mohammed brought about a death sentence.
They published a drawing. A screaming horde vowed to kill them for that. So they drew more. And the horde stormed their offices and murdered them.
While this is most certainly a modern Muslim phenomenon (I have yet to read of a Jesuit Death Squad raining destruction upon papers that mock Christianity, the Buddhists don't seem to be overly concerned about big-bellied idols dotting the landscape and the Mossad... well, they do stuff for other reasons), this is not a problem of religion. It is a problem of cowardice - and the problem is prevalent.
Muslims murdered people for hurting their feelings. But, throughout Europe, the U.K. and Canada, non-Muslims are jailing fellow citizens for the exact same offense under the crime of "hate speech." While truth or intent has long been a defense against libel, there is no such defense against - again, being deliberately simple - saying things that are mean. In Sweden and Scotland (more than once, recently), Christian leaders were arrested for saying their religion was opposed to homosexuality. In England, a political leader was arrested... for quoting Winston Churchill, a 19-year-old man was arrested by local police for tweeting a tasteless joke about a fatal truck accident, and police in Scotland announced that "[i]nquiries are ongoing... to establish any potential criminality" of an ebola joke tweeted by TV personality Katie Hopkins.
In Sweden once again, it is now a crime to post online criticism of politically protected groups and authorities (“The crime of ‘insult’ will be prosecuted — but only for giving offense to immigrants, LGBTQ persons or authorities.") Here in the United States, we haven't yet criminalized saying things that someone, somewhere, may find offensive - but there is certainly clamor for it, expanding on the established regulations surrounding hostile work environments, loosely defined as one where there are actions or language "offensive to an employee or group of employees based on a protected class status."
Is restricting "offensive-to-someone" speech through legal punishment the same as murder? Of course not. But the difference is only one of scale and method.
This is not about religion. This is about cowardice and the coddling of those who believe that they have the right to silence - be it through threats of violence, arrest, or financial ruin - those who say things that hurt their feelings. When you must fear punishment for saying something - not because it's untrue and slanderous; not because it incites violence or criminal activity; but because it simply offends someone - you are living under tyranny. When you cave to the pressure of that tyranny, when you allow that fear to silence you, you are just as great a coward as those making the demand.
And, in case you were wondering, this is where the road of coddling and enabling cowards leads you.
Study the frozen moment. Don't look away. That officer on the ground is 42-year-old Ahmed Merabet - himself a Muslim, by the way, in case you missed the earlier statement that "this is not about religion" - and he had people who loved him. He was responding to an act of violence against his fellow citizens, seeking to protect them. He was incapacitated and unable to fight. And he was murdered, shot at point-blank range, because someone was offended.
Now he's silent, too.